[ {"id":"fd22433b-ceaf-58e8-ae5c-2780082ae157","type":"article","starttime":"1484812800","starttime_iso8601":"2017-01-19T02:00:00-06:00","lastupdated":"1484868577","sections":[{"jon-alexander":"news/opinion/editorial/columnists/jon-alexander"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Alexander: Legal fees might frame Muscatine impeachment","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/jon-alexander/article_fd22433b-ceaf-58e8-ae5c-2780082ae157.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/jon-alexander/alexander-legal-fees-might-frame-muscatine-impeachment/article_fd22433b-ceaf-58e8-ae5c-2780082ae157.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/jon-alexander/alexander-legal-fees-might-frame-muscatine-impeachment/article_fd22433b-ceaf-58e8-ae5c-2780082ae157.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Jon Alexander\nEditorial Page Editor","prologue":"More than $100,000 has been spent defending Muscatine City Council against legal complaints filed by Mayor Diana Broderson, according to figures released Wednesday by City Administrator Gregg Mandsager. Wednesday's release is the best indication yet of the shape the City Council's impeachment case against the freshman mayor might take, said one city official with direct knowledge of the closed-door discussions.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["alan ostergren","politics","law","public and administrative law","diana broderson","matt brick","gregg mandsager","impeachment","legal fee","council"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"82bec63e-cf72-5b85-a998-5b198a6cb8f3","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"mugshot","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"720","height":"1019","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/2b/82bec63e-cf72-5b85-a998-5b198a6cb8f3/573103b5b7ccb.image.jpg?resize=720%2C1019"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"141","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/2b/82bec63e-cf72-5b85-a998-5b198a6cb8f3/567963934788e.preview-100.jpg"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"425","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/2b/82bec63e-cf72-5b85-a998-5b198a6cb8f3/573103b5b7ccb.image.jpg?resize=300%2C425"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"1449","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/2b/82bec63e-cf72-5b85-a998-5b198a6cb8f3/573103b5b7ccb.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":26,"commentID":"fd22433b-ceaf-58e8-ae5c-2780082ae157","body":"

More than $100,000 has been spent defending Muscatine City Council against legal complaints filed by Mayor Diana Broderson, according to figures released Wednesday by City Administrator Gregg Mandsager. Wednesday's release is the best indication yet of the shape the City Council's impeachment case against the freshman mayor might take, said one city official with direct knowledge of the closed-door discussions.

Much of the legal dispute followed the council's move in August to strip Broderson of unilateral appointment authority.

A city official, speaking on a condition of anonymity because he's not authorized to publicly discuss the yet-to-be released charges, said the skyrocketing legal fees \u2014 resulting from repeated complaints filed with state and local prosecutors and auditors \u2014 are tied to the council's allegation that Broderson displayed \"habitual neglect\" of her \"fiduciary duties.\"

About $64,000 has been spent on legal fees defending the council against Broderson's complaints filed with Iowa Attorney General's Office and other entities, City Attorney Matt Brick outlined an an email, which was forwarded to City Council members by Mandsager. Another $43,600 in staff time was spent defending the council against \"unproven claims and allegations,\" the email says.

Mandsager declined comment Wednesday when asked for further details.

\"I have a process to follow,\" he said, adding that the formal charges will be clear when they're released.

City officials said the official charges could be released as early as Friday. There's been public outcry over the lack of details surrounding the impeachment charges against Broderson since the council voted last Thursday to initiate the process that could oust her.

Broderson said Wednesday that her petitions for state legal opinions and a state audit are fundamental parts of her job duties.

\"If they have to spend legal fees to defend against that, it's not my problem,\" she said.

Muscatine County Attorney Alan Ostergren has found himself wrapped up in the city dispute. Late last year, Broderson petitioned Iowa attorney general for an opinion on the council's amendment to city code that required Broderson to consult the council on any appointment to a city board or commission. State lawyers determined that the city had violated Iowa code.

Broderson then petitioned Ostergren to file criminal charges against the City Council.

\"I would not prosecute,\" Ostergren said of his decision in December, arguing that the Attorney General opinion was simply a question of statute and not criminal law.

Ostergren's refusal to file criminal charges against the council raised the ire of Broderson's supporters.

\"It's simply not true,\" he said of allegations that the state finding directed Ostergren to file criminal charges.

Ostergren also confirmed that, late last year, Broderson asked him to prosecute two members of the news media for recording and broadcasting an interview that Broderson considered off the record.

For her part, Broderson considers the impeachment process little but a trumped up crusade to oust an outsider.

\"I think it's about politics,\" she said. \"I think it's about gender.\"

"}, {"id":"2f31b392-c65d-566b-a1b8-8cd221ac6ab1","type":"article","starttime":"1484809200","starttime_iso8601":"2017-01-19T01:00:00-06:00","sections":[{"dana-milbank":"news/opinion/editorial/columnists/dana-milbank"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Milbank: Will Trump evict reporters?","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/dana-milbank/article_2f31b392-c65d-566b-a1b8-8cd221ac6ab1.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/dana-milbank/milbank-will-trump-evict-reporters/article_2f31b392-c65d-566b-a1b8-8cd221ac6ab1.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/dana-milbank/milbank-will-trump-evict-reporters/article_2f31b392-c65d-566b-a1b8-8cd221ac6ab1.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Dana Milbank","prologue":"I followed the routine on Tuesday that I had hundreds of times covering the Clinton, Bush and Obama presidencies. I flashed my White House press pass at the guard at the northwest gate, cleared security and walked unmolested up the North Lawn driveway to the West Wing. I entered the press room, dropped my briefcase at the Post desk, then crossed into the briefing room to see the president's press secretary take questions from all comers.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["white house","politics","official","mike mccurry","journalist","donald trump","josh earnest","reporter"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"45b2105c-3164-5b98-8c28-5b842b8737d2","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"mugshot","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"600","height":"502","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/5b/45b2105c-3164-5b98-8c28-5b842b8737d2/572a61075f82d.image.jpg?resize=600%2C502"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"83","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/5b/45b2105c-3164-5b98-8c28-5b842b8737d2/567c4bf4ed4a2.preview-100.jpg"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"251","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/5b/45b2105c-3164-5b98-8c28-5b842b8737d2/572a61075f82d.image.jpg?resize=300%2C251"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"857","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/5b/45b2105c-3164-5b98-8c28-5b842b8737d2/572a61075f82d.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":7,"commentID":"2f31b392-c65d-566b-a1b8-8cd221ac6ab1","body":"

I followed the routine on Tuesday that I had hundreds of times covering the Clinton, Bush and Obama presidencies.

I flashed my White House press pass at the guard at the northwest gate, cleared security and walked unmolested up the North Lawn driveway to the West Wing. I entered the press room, dropped my briefcase at the Post desk, then crossed into the briefing room to see the president's press secretary take questions from all comers.

Over the decades, thousands of other journalists have performed this ritual, a potent symbol of the unparalleled freedom of the press in America: journalists freely accessing the very seat of power -- the West Wing of the White House -- and demanding answers of high officials.

Now, Donald Trump is considering putting an end to this. Over the weekend, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus confirmed that they were weighing a plan to kick reporters out of the West Wing in favor of a larger site elsewhere in the White House compound. That they are even considering such a move is shocking, yet not surprising.

Journalists have had a regular place to work and to question officials in the White House proper since the McKinley administration, and presidents and White House officials of both parties and journalists of all varieties have honored the custom. Journalists were there the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, and evacuated side by side with Bush officials when it was thought a hijacked plane was headed for the building.

Tuesday was Obama press secretary Josh Earnest's 354th and final press briefing, and the first since the talk of evicting reporters from the White House. Earnest was at least as alarmed as the journalists.

\"Was there ever any consideration by anybody in this White House of shutting this briefing room down, of taking reporters and moving them out of the West Wing?\" asked ABC News's Jon Karl.

\"No,\" Earnest said, \"there was not.\"

\"The fact that all of you represent independent news organizations and have regular access to the White House, have regular access to ... the briefing room at almost any hour and can hold people in power accountable is really important,\" he said. For White House officials, \"sometimes that's a little inconvenient, sometimes it's uncomfortable,\" he said, \"but it's necessary for the success of our democracy. ... And your ability to do that is going to be affected if you don't have regular access to the White House.\"

Bill Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry used to note that his office was 50 feet from the Oval Office and 50?feet from the briefing room -- an important symbol of the American free press. To this day, journalists can walk into Earnest's office, mere steps from the president's, and pose questions.

The Trump administration's talk of discarding a system that endured through two world wars suggests more substantive changes are not impossible. During the campaign, Trump banned news organizations he didn't like (including The Post) and kicked a disfavored journalist out of a news conference. During the transition, he has sometimes ditched the \"pool\" of journalists traveling with him in case of crisis. Will he now ban unwanted organizations and reporters from presidential events and Air Force One and slip the \"protective pool\" of journalists assigned to follow him? Will he prosecute reporters for guarding their sources, attempt (as he threatened) to roll back First Amendment protections and use the Justice Department to go after owners of news outlets he doesn't favor?

At Tuesday's briefing, Earnest gave a sentimental valedictory, and Obama dropped in to praise his spokesman. But the topic kept returning to the Trump transition's talk of carting reporters out of the White House.

Earnest encouraged the White House press corps to \"protect the things that are worth protecting,\" including the daily briefing. \"The symbolic value of this podium in this room in front of all of you is powerful, and it sends a strong message not just to the American people, but to people around the world,\" he said.

CBS News's Mark Knoller asked whether there were days Earnest dreaded the briefing.

Earnest admitted there were. Still, he said, \"it will take some getting used to seeing somebody else standing up here doing it.\"

\"Or not,\" he added.

There was laughter, but it wasn't really a joke.

\"Do you feel like this is the last briefing of this kind that we might see for a very long time?\" asked CNN's Michelle Kosinski.

\"I hope not,\" Earnest said. \"But I don't know.\"

"}, {"id":"3d8129b6-3b64-53b5-9fd6-c35005ccf0dc","type":"article","starttime":"1484805600","starttime_iso8601":"2017-01-19T00:00:00-06:00","lastupdated":"1484865936","sections":[{"ask-the-times":"news/local/ask-the-times"},{"roy-booker":"news/opinion/editorial/columnists/roy-booker"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Ask the Times: Vera French renovating former Davenport nursing home","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/local/ask-the-times/article_3d8129b6-3b64-53b5-9fd6-c35005ccf0dc.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/local/ask-the-times/ask-the-times-vera-french-renovating-former-davenport-nursing-home/article_3d8129b6-3b64-53b5-9fd6-c35005ccf0dc.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/local/ask-the-times/ask-the-times-vera-french-renovating-former-davenport-nursing-home/article_3d8129b6-3b64-53b5-9fd6-c35005ccf0dc.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":2,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Roy Booker\nrbooker@qctimes.com","prologue":"Q. There was a nursing home facility on West Kimberly Road way out past Harlan's that has been closed for years. I now see there is construction work going on. What's going on there? \u2014\u00a0Linda, Eldridge, Iowa A. If you are asking about the former Meadow Lawn Nursing Center, 4656 W. Kimberly Road, Davenport, according to information published in the Quad-City Times Daily Record on Nov. 29, 2016, under building permits, Vera French Community Health Care is doing a commercial remodeling of the property. Russell Construction is doing the work and the amount listed was $1,788,882.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["davenport","iowa","denise beenk","vera french","quad-cities convention & visitors bureau","joe taylor","vera french community mental health center","meadow lawn nursing center","economics","sleigh","transports","health board","building industry","ride","care facility","instructor","vera french community","owner"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"8cf9047a-293e-5ecf-a1b7-60b37a655750","description":"4656 W. Kimberly Road, Davenport.","byline":"Contributed","hireswidth":1369,"hiresheight":799,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/cf/8cf9047a-293e-5ecf-a1b7-60b37a655750/587fc45950ec0.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1369","height":"799","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/cf/8cf9047a-293e-5ecf-a1b7-60b37a655750/587fc4594f8a2.image.jpg?resize=1369%2C799"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"58","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/cf/8cf9047a-293e-5ecf-a1b7-60b37a655750/587fc4594f8a2.image.jpg?resize=100%2C58"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"175","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/cf/8cf9047a-293e-5ecf-a1b7-60b37a655750/587fc4594f8a2.image.jpg?resize=300%2C175"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"598","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/cf/8cf9047a-293e-5ecf-a1b7-60b37a655750/587fc4594f8a2.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C598"}}},{"id":"c0b55883-75ec-534d-be69-a1eb2961fafc","description":"Cigarettes float in an ashtray in the designated smoking area outside Building 1 at Black Hawk College. June 30 marked the last day that smoking was allowed on the Moline campus.","byline":"Kevin E. Schmidt, QUAD-CITY TIMES file photo","hireswidth":1500,"hiresheight":1080,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/0b/c0b55883-75ec-534d-be69-a1eb2961fafc/559316ce55bec.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1500","height":"1080","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/0b/c0b55883-75ec-534d-be69-a1eb2961fafc/559316ce54d4b.image.jpg?resize=1500%2C1080"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"72","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/0b/c0b55883-75ec-534d-be69-a1eb2961fafc/559316ce99e75.preview-100.jpg"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"216","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/0b/c0b55883-75ec-534d-be69-a1eb2961fafc/559316ce54d4b.image.jpg?resize=300%2C216"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"737","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/0b/c0b55883-75ec-534d-be69-a1eb2961fafc/559316ce54d4b.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C737"}}}],"revision":5,"commentID":"3d8129b6-3b64-53b5-9fd6-c35005ccf0dc","body":"

Q. There was a nursing home facility on West Kimberly Road way out past Harlan's that has been closed for years. I now see there is construction work going on. What's going on there? \u2014\u00a0Linda, Eldridge, Iowa

A. If you are asking about the former Meadow Lawn Nursing Center, 4656 W. Kimberly Road, Davenport, according to information published in the Quad-City Times Daily Record on Nov. 29, 2016, under building permits, Vera French Community Health Care is doing a commercial remodeling of the property. Russell Construction is doing the work and the amount listed was $1,788,882.

We also contacted Vera French Community Mental Health Center, Davenport, for more information. Denise Beenk, interim CEO and director of residential outreach programs for Vera French Pine Knoll/CMHC, responded:

\"You are correct that Vera French Community Mental Health Center (VFCMHC) is currently renovating the property at 4656 W. Kimberly Rd., which was formerly known as Meadow Lawn. Due to federal regulations around Medicaid funding, VFCMHC must downsize our current 60-bed licensed residential care facility on Telegraph Rd. into smaller sites that are a maximum of 15-beds. There will be a total of two 15-bed licensed residential care facilities that VFCMHC will own and operate in Davenport, and the 15-bed W. Kimberly site will open in the summer of 2017. VFCMHC is grateful for the support of the community, and the opportunity to provide quality health care to persons in need within our community.\"

Q. Do we have any sleigh rides within a 50-mile radius? I prefer a cutter sleigh, which would be a two- or four-seat sleigh. \u2014\u00a0Pam, Bettendorf

A. We contacted the Quad-Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau to find out. Joe Taylor, president and CEO, responded:

\"I am not aware of any regularly scheduled sleigh rides. As you note, if sleigh rides do occur, they are usually part of a holiday event.\"

We thought there might be some connected with events such as Christmas in LeClaire. Dennis Gerard, finance and economic development for LeClaire, said, \"No horse-drawn sleighs at Christmas in LeClaire. \u00a0We've had horse-drawn buggies a time or two.\"

Here is a link to some online listings for hay and sleigh rides in the region:\u00a0bit.ly/2j6840k.

Q. I go to real estate class in the evenings at a local real estate company. There are a couple of people who smoke in the bathrooms. The instructor knows that they smoke. What can be done about this? Who do you call? \u2014\u00a0Reader

A.\u00a0Is the instructor also the owner of the company? If not and if you have made several attempts to talk to the instructor, try the owner or the instructor's supervisor. If this doesn't help, you may want to contact the local health department or the city regarding ordinance enforcement.

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Police and the policed: They live in two different realities.\u00a0

That's the take away from a hugely important report released last week by Pew Research Center. The survey of 8,000 officers in cities throughout the country offers a telling, yet troubling glimpse into the minds of rank-and-file cops in the age of Black Lives Matter. It also suggests racial divisions \u2014\u00a0festering throughout the country \u2014\u00a0also are deeply seated within police ranks, too.

Take, for example, perceptions of deadly police encounters with young black men. Just 39 percent of the population think these encounters are merely isolated instances and reject the argument that they're symptomatic of systematic racial bias. Seventy-two percent of officers included in the survey hold that opinion. Yet a solid majority of black officers agree with public perception that the highly publicized deaths are, in fact, rooted in systemic prejudice.

That internal racial division, too, carries through with police perceptions of the protests sparked by the killings. Only 27 percent of respondents believe Black Lives Matter protesters have a genuine interest in holding officers accountable. But 69 percent of black cops think accountability is the main thrust for BLM protesters. At a global scale, 92 percent of officers surveyed believe that the U.S. has made ample changes to address racial inequality. That number dwindles to just 29 percent among black officers alone.

Only about a quarter of officers agreed that their department does an adequate job rooting out bad cops. Yet a massive majority support internal use-of-force guidelines. And a whopping 86 percent say the public doesn't appreciate what they do.\u00a0

Police are also substantially less likely to support gun control efforts, especially bans on assault-style weapons, than Americans at large.

Overall, Pew's survey paints of a picture of a nation full of cops who feel misunderstood and isolated. But it also includes hints of a fraternity that rejects the concerns of the very civilians who pay them. That's dangerous.

We've said it before: Police can be respected while also scrutinized. It's a red herring to argue that expectations of transparency and accountability are, somehow, out of whack with general appreciation.

Police are, after all, public employees who wield substantial power. Cops have long been the sharp edge of the spear when government targeted certain groups. Civilian oversight is the only barrier against abuse and the bulwark of mutual trust.

Yet, time after time, police unions howl at even the most justified criticism. They rally against right-minded reforms. And they do it in the face of mounting evidence of a broken system. Just last week, the U.S. Justice Department issued its damning report of Chicago Police Department. The scathing assessment detailed widespread abuse of power and use-of-force practices that, on the ground, targeted racial minorities.

The vast majority of rank-and-file officers deserve utmost respect. They do a tough, necessary job. But it's also true that cops are most effective when they have the full confidence of their communities. And that's only possible if police and residents alike share a common interest.\u00a0

At present, the police and the policed aren't even experiencing the same universe.\u00a0

"}, {"id":"56f11ea5-4207-50ec-8080-f47db7e37df0","type":"article","starttime":"1484640000","starttime_iso8601":"2017-01-17T02:00:00-06:00","sections":[{"jon-alexander":"news/opinion/editorial/columnists/jon-alexander"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Alexander: Muscatine council faces a high bar","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/jon-alexander/article_56f11ea5-4207-50ec-8080-f47db7e37df0.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/jon-alexander/alexander-muscatine-council-faces-a-high-bar/article_56f11ea5-4207-50ec-8080-f47db7e37df0.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/jon-alexander/alexander-muscatine-council-faces-a-high-bar/article_56f11ea5-4207-50ec-8080-f47db7e37df0.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Jon Alexander\nEditorial Page Editor","prologue":"This had better be good. Muscatine City Council walks a fine line with its coming impeachment hearings that could oust Mayor Diana Broderson. The freshman mayor mustn't be guilty of anything too egregious. The state attorney general isn't walking the halls. The state auditor isn't combing through the books.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["diana broderson","law","hearing","muscatine city council","council","politics","impeachment","city council","michael rehwaldt"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"82bec63e-cf72-5b85-a998-5b198a6cb8f3","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"mugshot","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"720","height":"1019","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/2b/82bec63e-cf72-5b85-a998-5b198a6cb8f3/573103b5b7ccb.image.jpg?resize=720%2C1019"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"141","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/2b/82bec63e-cf72-5b85-a998-5b198a6cb8f3/567963934788e.preview-100.jpg"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"425","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/2b/82bec63e-cf72-5b85-a998-5b198a6cb8f3/573103b5b7ccb.image.jpg?resize=300%2C425"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"1449","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/2b/82bec63e-cf72-5b85-a998-5b198a6cb8f3/573103b5b7ccb.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":3,"commentID":"56f11ea5-4207-50ec-8080-f47db7e37df0","body":"

This had better be good.

Muscatine City Council walks a fine line with its coming impeachment hearings that could oust Mayor Diana Broderson. The freshman mayor mustn't be guilty of anything too egregious. The state attorney general isn't walking the halls. The state auditor isn't combing through the books.

So the council will find itself in a tough position when the impeachment hearing convenes: Justify Broderson's ouster for something that didn't merit a state investigation.\u00a0

What is known is that, throughout her year in office, the council has stripped Broderson of her power. It has regularly excluded her from closed-door sessions. It has actively worked to isolate her.\u00a0

To many, last week's move to draft impeachment charges is just another step in a year-long crusade to delegitimize the mayor elected by Muscatine's citizens.\u00a0

In a matter of weeks, the City Council will convene and, apparently, try to prove that Broderson, in a year in office, displayed \"willful\" and \"habitual\" misconduct of her duties. The council will assume the burden of proof, at least in the mind of the public. It's a high bar.\u00a0

Councilman Michael Rehwaldt appeared to hint at the yet-to-be-filed charges last week, while reading the legislation that instated the impeachment process. Rehwaldt lightly touched on \"neglect of fiduciary\" duties. But he specifically highlighted allegations that Broderson is bad-mouthing the council and city staff around town, \"undermining public trust\" in government.\u00a0

That had better not be the crux of the council's case. Ousting an elected officials for exercising her First Amendment rights, and publicly blasting City Administrator Gregg Mandsager, would be an attack on the democratic process.

Neither Mandsager nor the several members of the City Council with whom I spoke will offer details. Wait until the charges are filed, they say. The city's attorney has said silence is the safest legal course, they say.

That's probably true, but the lack of details only compounds the damage done to public perception, regardless of whose side they're on.\u00a0

On Thursday night, the effects of the year-long dispute between Broderson and the council were already exceedingly obvious.\u00a0The pitchforks were out.\u00a0

Broderson had done her work and rallied her supporters. I counted about 70 members of the public packed into the City Council Chambers. Judging by the applause, Broderson supporters outnumbered her opponents' backers 10 to 1. Over Mandsager objections, she opened the floor for comment and one after another, they got up and skewered the council and administrator for this \"witch hunt.\"

Small town politics are often the ugliest. It's where interests are the most entrenched. It's where familial spats can last generations.\u00a0

Muscatine City Council had better be ready to prove that Broderson's so-called \"negligence\" cost taxpayers. It had better be able to show that she acted in a way that objectively undermined government.\u00a0

If the City Council fails to make its case, it'll prove Broderson's argument that the whole thing is nothing but a petty, vindictive rejection of the voters. It'll validate her supporters, who believe the dispute merely sets the \"good ol' boys\" against a political outsider.

An undemocratic coup would undermine trust in City Hall far more than anything Broderson might have said at a local coffee joint.\u00a0

Wait and see, members of Muscatine City Council say. In the meantime, the rancor swirls and the divisions widen.

Council members must prove to Muscatine's citizens that they're acting in the city's best interest. So far, through silence and action, they haven't done much to help their case. \u00a0

"}, {"id":"b8d5d2d8-046e-5aa2-a887-17446adcbb29","type":"article","starttime":"1484553600","starttime_iso8601":"2017-01-16T02:00:00-06:00","sections":[{"guest":"news/opinion/editorial/columnists/guest"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Miller: No joy in Springfield over Madigan's continued reign","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/guest/article_b8d5d2d8-046e-5aa2-a887-17446adcbb29.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/guest/miller-no-joy-in-springfield-over-madigan-s-continued-reign/article_b8d5d2d8-046e-5aa2-a887-17446adcbb29.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/guest/miller-no-joy-in-springfield-over-madigan-s-continued-reign/article_b8d5d2d8-046e-5aa2-a887-17446adcbb29.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Rich Miller","prologue":"If I had to choose a word to describe the Democrats' nominating speeches for House Speaker Michael Madigan's re-election last week, it would be either \"defensive\" or perhaps \"joyless.\" The speeches seemed directly aimed at Madigan's toughest critics\u00a0\u2014 and there are plenty of those out there. The nominators at times angrily justified their own votes for Madigan and their continued willingness to support him while under siege by a hostile kabillionaire governor and much of the state's media. They literally cannot go anywhere without being asked about why they continue to back Madigan.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["michael madigan","politics","john cullerton","house","vote","speech","democrats","dan beiser"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"dfb05d01-abe0-54ae-bcf6-357756f2eeca","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"mugshot","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"229","height":"300","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/d/fb/dfb05d01-abe0-54ae-bcf6-357756f2eeca/58546f9d06d40.image.jpg?resize=229%2C300"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"131","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/d/fb/dfb05d01-abe0-54ae-bcf6-357756f2eeca/58546f9d06d40.image.jpg?resize=100%2C131"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"393","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/d/fb/dfb05d01-abe0-54ae-bcf6-357756f2eeca/58546f9d06d40.image.jpg"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"1341","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/d/fb/dfb05d01-abe0-54ae-bcf6-357756f2eeca/58546f9d06d40.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":2,"commentID":"b8d5d2d8-046e-5aa2-a887-17446adcbb29","body":"

If I had to choose a word to describe the Democrats' nominating speeches for House Speaker Michael Madigan's re-election last week, it would be either \"defensive\" or perhaps \"joyless.\"

The speeches seemed directly aimed at Madigan's toughest critics\u00a0\u2014 and there are plenty of those out there. The nominators at times angrily justified their own votes for Madigan and their continued willingness to support him while under siege by a hostile kabillionaire governor and much of the state's media. They literally cannot go anywhere without being asked about why they continue to back Madigan.

For the most part, these were speeches from an all too real bunker.

Rep. Dan Beiser, D-Alton, told a touching story about how Madigan dotes\u00a0on \u00a0his grandchild, but began his speech with an anecdote about how he figured the child would get him in trouble by playing with a toy car in Madigan's office\u00a0\u2014 a clear acknowledgment of his leader's fearsome reputation. It was an attempt to humanize a man who has been turned into a cartoon caricature of an evil villain. But it was too little, too late.

Beiser, by the way, was a Tier One campaign target last year who was repeatedly forced to distance himself from Madigan. His nominating speech was the clearest indication yet that he won't be running for re-election next year. Former Rep. John Bradley lost his House race last year partly because the Republicans aired an ad that used video from one of his own Madigan nominating speeches. Beiser's speech was likely not so much an act of courage in the face of overwhelming retribution, but a way to show his thanks to the top dog on his way out the door.

While House Democrats repeatedly lashed out at the opposition to Madigan, Senate Democrats were heaping praise on Senate President John Cullerton for being, in the words of Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, \"uniquely qualified at building bipartisan bridges because, above everything else, he has demonstrated a love for this state.\"

Contrast that with the speech of Rep. Elgie Sims,\u00a0D-Chicago, which began with a story about how a friend warned him against seconding Madigan's nomination because the Republicans would bash him with tons of negative ads.

The strong sense of political danger about the vote was a sentiment widely shared by Sims\u2019 fellow Democratic House members. But in the end, the members did their grim best to power their way forward.

Madigan began his own speech by asking for bipartisanship, but then defiantly refused yet again to participate in any \"race to the bottom\" with Gov. Bruce\u00a0Rauner and appeared to dismiss out of hand any attempt to reform workers' compensation insurance, a key component of the compromise brewing in the Senate.

Madigan's speech was nothing like Senate President Cullerton's, who mildly complained about the fact that the Senate is often ignored by reporters because \"if there's no conflict there's no coverage.\"

Cullerton talked about the advances he and Senate Republican Leader Radogno have made together. The two were elected to their leadership roles as the divisive end of the Rod Blagojevich era was coming to a tragic end. \"We've seen some pretty bad times and we've gotten through them by working together,\" he said.

\"How about we just try governing for a little bit?\" Cullerton gently asked near the end of his speech after saying the non-stop campaign-style messaging needs to stop. \"That's what the people have sent us here to do.\"

That same sentiment was expressed much more forcefully in the House, where Republican Leader Jim Durkin angrily demanded an end to the Democrats' \"gotcha\" games of holding endless roll calls purely designed to be used in campaign ads.

Watching the two ceremonies was truly a study in contrasts. The Senate was brimming with hope that it can finally lead the way out of this horrific two-year impasse. The House, meanwhile, is still mired up to its collective neck in the stalemate with no clear way forward.

And then there was the lone \"Present\" vote by Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highwood, who issued a long and rambling news release afterward predicting that he will likely face \"repercussions\" for his (mostly meaningless) act, and claiming that \"Illinois is in a free-fall into the abyss.\"

Despite his usual melodramatics and penchant for self-aggrandizement, Drury's statement was almost the perfect cap for a joyless and grim afternoon. It is clear, he wrote, that \"a majority of the General Assembly is not ready for a new Speaker.\"

That is very true. Last week, the House Democrats continued the age-old political practice of dancing with the one who brung them. But there were few smiles to be seen.

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A New York City police captain said he regards \"true stranger rapes\" as \"more troubling\" than rapes in which the victims knew their attacker. Outrage ensued. He quickly apologized, writing on Twitter, \"My comments were not meant to minimize the seriousness of sexual assault.\"

The National Organization for Women protested outside his Brooklyn precinct anyway.

It happens that Capt. Peter Rose was on the mark, in both his original statement and his clarification. Portraying date rapes as \"not total abomination rapes where strangers are being dragged off the street\" in no way implies that sexual assaults involving acquaintances are not abominable. Rather, in terms of public safety, stranger rapes are the greater threat to the female public.

Nationally, about 80 percent of women who report being raped say they knew their attacker. Many such cases fall under the category of \"date rape,\" especially common in an era of online hookups.

A man and woman make contact on a \"dating\" app such as Tinder, popular among those seeking a purely sexual liaison. They meet at a bar, and after some time spent drinking (and perhaps drugging), the woman agrees to accompany him to her place or his, and the man forces the woman to have sex.

That's rape, for sure. It is a crime. And the traumatized woman may go after her attacker criminally or through a civil suit.

Married women sexually assaulted by their husbands also have recourse. Until 1975, every state had a \"marital exemption\" providing legal cover for husbands who raped their wives. No more.

But as with other violent crimes, the abhorrence factor is adjusted by the circumstances. A woman who voluntarily goes to a private place with a guy she just met two hours before has behaved unwisely. Less so the woman who did so after her \"date\" slipped a drug in her drink. And not at all for the woman lacking the mental capacity to offer consent.

Rose's precinct, in the Greenpoint area of Brooklyn, has been dealing with a spike in alleged sexual assaults. By noting that only two of the 13 incidents reported last year were \"true stranger rapes,\" Rose intended to reassure women in the neighborhood. Reasonable women would have responded that way.

Suppose they don't live with an abusive man and don't casually hook up with men met online. Suppose they do. Given the reality of limited police resources, wouldn't all rational women in the neighborhood want priority placed on the predators roaming the area for random female victims?

This discussion clearly makes a distinction between victims who took precautions and those who didn't. Such distinctions make some feminists uncomfortable, but they shouldn't. Good people err in judgment, especially when they're young. But no one does women a favor by treating them like children bearing no responsibility for their own safety.

This has nothing to do with sexual mores. A woman of sound mind has a right to hook up with however many men she wants to and engage in whatever sexual activity she and the partner agree on. But there are risks involved. Skydivers don't have armies of helpers running along the ground with safety nets.

Law enforcement is ill-equipped to play the chaperone. It basically does cleanup. And people injured in car accidents are taken to the hospital whether they wore seat belts or not.

Let's end with clarity. Women raped by a date, co-worker or husband should be cared for as those assaulted by a stranger in a park. They deserve criminal justice. But rapes by total strangers are the most horrendous. They should be more troubling to the police -- and the public, as well.

"} ]